You know when you go into a consignment store or a thrift shop and it seems like everything is everywhere, it’s a tiny space that contains too much stuff, and there’s no room to move around or discernible organizational scheme to help you find what you’re interested in? A Passion for Fashion is the cure to those problems. Don’t get me wrong, they have a ton of clothes, shoes, bags, and jewelry, but I don’t immediately feel like I’m inside a disorganized person’s chaotic brain when I walk through the door. Everything is sorted and displayed nicely, and there’s enough room to walk around the shop that if there are a bunch of other people in the store at the same time as you, you don’t end up squished and stressed out.
A Passion for Fashion is a consignment store that my friend Liz‘s mom (Trish) owns. Their business used to live in a small store front in Abington, on the south shore of Massachusetts, but they recently moved to this huge shop down the street from the original location. This was my first time in the new store, and I’m obsessed with it.
Partly because I know Trish personally, but mostly because I’ve always really liked her store and the type of clothing that she sells, I decided to try to consign some of my clothes at A Passion for Fashion. I’ve never consigned clothes before, and I imagine some of you haven’t either, so I figured I’d walk you through the process as I learned it.
Not pictured here are the many months that I spent decimating my closet. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I have this weird dream of having a minimalist wardrobe, but I also used to work at a retail store where I received a 60% employee discount, so I’ve had to spend a lot of time weeding out clothes that I don’t really need. It’s difficult, it hurts my heart, and I’m still not down to a wardrobe that I would consider “minimalist”, but I’m on my way.
My normal process for getting rid of clothes is sort through my closet and pull out things that I don’t wear very often and probably don’t need. I always have that nagging feeling, “But what if I need it someday?” when I try to get rid of stuff. To help calm that pack rat anxiety, I usually pull things out of my closet and put them in a big trash bag and then keep that trash bag somewhere in my room or my closet for a while. Sometimes I think of a new outfit that I want to try out with one of the items that I thought I would get rid of, so I just pull it out of the bag and put it back in my closet, reprieved. However, most of the time, I forget that I ever had the stuff that went into the trash bag, which is how I know that it’s ready to be consigned or donated.
I did these closet purges a few times over the course of the last six months or so, and ended up with five trash bags full of clothes, shoes, and accessories of varying quality to be disposed of. This is how I arrived at A Passion for Fashion on Saturday afternoon.
The first thing that I learned about consigning your clothes is that you can’t just dump everything into a trash bag and roll up to the store. It’s not cool. I’m sure different stores vary in their procedures, but Trish told me that she usually prefers when clothes are folded up in a two-handled shopping bag or hung up on hangers. If you’re like me and you have exactly one hanger for each article of clothing in your closet, take comfort in the fact that Trish gives you your hangers back. Even if you’re not in Massachusetts and you have to settle for a shop that isn’t owned by Trish, it’s probably a good idea to follow these guidelines. You don’t want to be the slob who shows up with trash bags. Trust me, I’m the slob who showed up with trash bags.
Since I have exclusive insider connections to the shop (Liz), I was allowed to go in the back room and sort through some of my trash bags. Liz and I mostly did this because, as I said, I had five trash bags’ worth of clothing, much of which was sort of rolled into a ball and haphazardly tossed into the bag, and I wasn’t going to make Trish deal with that mess. Liz works in the store and has experience working with Trish as she selects items to consign, so she knows the kinds of things that they’re looking for and was able to help me sort everything neatly and weed out the stuff that Trish most likely wouldn’t want.
It was harder than I thought to go through all of the clothes that I had forgotten about and still give them up. That pack rat anxiety came back, but thankfully I managed to let almost everything go. There was a tiny pile at the end of last-minute reprieves. Honestly, they’ll probably end up in the next batch to be consigned, but I just wasn’t ready to part with them yet.
We sorted everything by season because that’s how Trish organizes the store. Basically, she’s selling fall and winter items now, so those are the things she’ll take first, and everything else will be stored in the back room until it’s time to sell spring and summer stuff. Trish tags everything depending on the month that you give it to her. So, the fall/winter stuff that I gave to her this time will be tagged for December because I brought it in to the store in November. Say she tags all of the December clothes with blue price tags. It all stays full price until the end of December (even if you brought it in on November 1st!) and then in January it’ll go to 25% off, in February it drops to 50% off, and then on March 1st everything with a blue tag will be pulled from the racks. In the last two weeks of February, I’ll have the opportunity to come back to the store and pick up anything that hasn’t sold yet. If I don’t want it, then Trish owns it. There are a couple of things that I might keep if it doesn’t sell by the end of February, but I’ll probably just let Trish donate most of it to charity if it doesn’t sell.
Speaking of donating to charity, there’s a handy clothing drop box right across the street from the store! After Liz and I finished sorting through a couple of my bags, we had a bag full of things that were still wearable but weren’t quite what Trish is looking to stock in the store, so we just ran it across the street and donated it! It was a relief that I didn’t have to take the bag of leftovers with me; it’s definitely cathartic to just get rid of everything all in one go.
Liz and I wanted to go home and catch up on the last couple of episodes of This Is Us, so we left the sorted clothes with Trish, and I’ll go back to sign the consignment contract another day soon. I also still have a couple of bags that we didn’t go through, so we might do that and then sign the contract so that it’s all done at once.
Basically, when you consign your clothes with A Passion for Fashion, you get a percentage of the sale depending on how much the item sells for. If you bring something in and it sells for less than $20, then you get 40% of the sale. If you bring in something nicer (Trish has a whole rack of designer clothes, and almost all of the handbags and accessories are designer) and it sells for more than $20, then you get 50% of the sale. Trish also told me that there have been times when people have brought in a ton of great stuff all at once and she’ll agree to split the sale with them 50/50 across the board instead of going with the normal 40% for under $20 rule. So the amount of money that you make really depends on the quality of the stuff you bring in. Either way, I think it’s sweet. I’ve always just donated my clothes, so having the option to make any money while I clean out my closet seems awesome to me.
While we were hanging out in the store chatting (or, in my case, shopping — I got the cutest bag; I’ll instagram a photo to show you guys) Trish mentioned that sometime after the holidays she wants to hold a Style Swap at the store.
There are a few different ways to do it, and she hasn’t settled on how A Passion for Fashion’s Style Swap will work, but it’s basically an event where you bring in some gently worn clothes that you don’t wear anymore and you have the opportunity to swap them for clothes that other people brought to the event. It sounds really fun, and I definitely want to do it.
Trish wants me to be there to help people decide what looks good, how to pair different pieces in order to make the best outfits, and consult on any of your other fashion questions. But I’ll probably mostly just be there elbowing people out of the way so that I can get to the best stuff before anyone else. Trish and I are going to work together to plan it, so make sure you follow me on twitter and like the A Passion for Fashion facebook page in order to stay in the loop!
I’m going to be in Dallas this weekend for a conference, but I’m going to try to get a post up on Friday anyway. See you then!